Thursday, November 22, 2007

Has Keith Urban jumped the shark?

I have only seen Keith Urban play live once – at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney about three years ago. I think. Well, before Nicole. It was sublime. By then I was already in love with Be Here as an album and Keith as a performer, but seeing him live just made it all the more exquisite. That man could work a stage like no one I had seen since Chris Cornell fronting Soundgarden (token rock ’n’ roll references are allowed) and everyone was in thrall to him. And what was not to love about Be Here? Killer singles – ‘She’s Gotta Be’ is one of the finest pop/country/rock songs of recent times – and a well-balanced collection of tunes. There was love, loss, addiction, joy and spirituality, and it was all so COOL.

Then he got married.

Then there was Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing. Now, he still has the melody-writing chops. But the lyrics leave me cold. Plus I think he wrote less on this album than he did on Be Here. He’s tame – or, at least, he seems tame. The spit and fire have gone out of him. In other words: he has jumped the shark. I still listen to this album, but not as much as I’m still listening to Be Here. I miss Cool Keith. I want Cool Keith back. The big question for those of us who thought that Be Here heralded a golden age of Keithness is: does Cool Keith still exist? Certainly, his guitar duel with John Butler at the 2007 ARIAs indicated that there might be something there, and that others are starting to see it. But just because John Butler thinks he’s cool now doesn’t mean he’s thinking that the right Keith is cool.

Only the next album could tell us how he was travelling. And, unsurprisingly, it's a greatest hits package. Sigh.

Cool Keith: come home.

(Opinions expressed above have NOTHING to do with the fact that I was planning to be Mrs Urban.)

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